Did you know you could actually help improve your digestion -through your feet? Yep, it’s true and it’s called reflexology. A study with which I’ve been fascinated by for many years. In fact, more than 15 years ago I searched locally for a center to learn reflexology in hopes of becoming a reflexologist myself and start my own practice. Of course, that path was not the one I took, but I never lost my interest in this amazing healing modality.
Today’s post comes to you via Kate Bilyj, a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist (read more about Kate’s work here). I asked Kate to share more about the connection with reflexology and digestion. Since I teach a course on digestive/gut health I thought it would be awesome to learn how you can support digestion with reflexology. Here’s Kate…………….
Reflexology is an ancient healing therapy. It is a type of bodywork that focuses on applying pressure to the specific nerve zones in your feet. Unlike other foot massages that intend to mostly relieve tension in the feet themselves, reflexology is a far more in-depth science that aims to harmonize your entire body. According to reflexology, every part of the human body is mapped into your feet. Reflexology treatments have been found to be highly effective for conditions such as allergies, headaches, and depression. (Basic reflexology points are illustrated in the graphic below).
Your digestive system is finely tuned, and it can easily be disrupted. Massage therapy can address digestive issues by promoting stress relief and easing tension throughout the body; digestive disruption can often be caused by stress. However, reflexology is a much more effective and easy method to address your digestive issues. A treatment will often times bring immediate relief and it is simple to learn and do yourself.
The reflex points for the digestive system are found on the plantar surface of both feet. As you read the following, visualize this graphic and practice on yourself. Across the distal phalanges (the bones) of all toes on both feet you can find the reflex points for the oral cavity or mouth where food enters the system. You will also find there the reflex points for all of the teeth.
At the center of the big toes’ distal bone, the reflex points for the tongue are found and just under the big toe that of the pharynx or throat. Coming down in a curve along the lateral side of the ball of the big toe on the left foot you will find the reflex points of the esophagus, which curves below the big toe to the medial side of the foot a little below the ball of the big toe. Imagine now 3 lines running across the feet: one below the balls of the toes, one across the narrowest part of the foot where the arches curves inward, and one across just above the fleshy part of the heel.
Between line 1 (the diaphragm line) and line 2, the narrowest part of the foot ( the waistline) on the left foot and just below line 2 at the medial side of the foot, the reflex point for the sphincter valve through which food passes from the esophagus into the stomach is located. The area then between lines 1 and 2 on the left foot from the medial side to the area under the 3rd toe, you can find the reflex points for the larger part of the stomach.
On the right foot between lines 1 and two from the medial side to under the area between the 2nd and 3rd toes you can locate the reflex points for the lesser part of the stomach. The rest of the area between lines 1 and 2 over to the lateral side on the right foot contain the reflex points for the liver and gallbladder. On the right foot at the medial side, at and just under line 2, you can find the reflex point for another sphincter valve (the pyloric valve) through which the food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestines. The area between lines 2 and 3 contain the reflex points for the small and large intestines.
Often times these points will be irritated, slightly painful to the touch and have a grainy feel when massaged. This indicates a digestive disruption. The first part of the small intestine has reflex points just above line 2 under the reflex points of the liver on the right foot and down to the mid area between line 2 and 3 and from there on the right foot to the medial side of the foot and over to the left foot and up to the top area between lines 2 and 3 under toe 1 where it curves and enters the second part of the small intestine whose reflex occupies the upper part of that area.
The reflex points for the third part of the small intestine are in the lower part of that area on the right foot. On the right foot at the base of the area between lines 2 and 3 under the area between toes 4and 5 is the reflex point for another sphincter valve (ileocecal) through which what remains of the food leaves the small intestine and enters the large intestine.
The reflex points for the large intestine surround the reflex points for the large intestine in the area between lines 2 and 3. They go up from the ileocecal valve at the base to line 2 under the liver reflex points and turn left to go across both feet straddling line 2. On the left foot under toe 5 they turn down and pass to the line 3 where they turn right and curve in the form of an S (sigmoid colon) above and below line 3 on the left to the medial side of the foot a little under line 3 where they enter the rectum whose reflex points curve medially on the heel in the area below the part between toes 1 and 2. The reflex points cross over to the right foot where they form the same curve as on the left.
Finally the reflex points for the important pancreas are found on the right foot where the reflex points for the liver and duodenum together and move medially over to the left foot where the reflex point taper out just above line 2 below the stomach reflex points and travel over to the area under toe 4. The most effective way to stimulate these reflex points, and promote a better flow for the digestive system, is to apply gentle clockwise/counterclockwise massage strokes directly on the reflex points, and in general, throughout the entire digestive reflex zone.
As I mentioned, the points may be tender to the touch and you may feel as if you are massaging small pebbles under the skin. Continue to gently massage the points until you begin to feel relief and the area below the surface of the skin becomes smoother. You can use this simple method to relieve occasional digestive breakdowns as well as on a regular basis to relieve chronic issues. Use an essential oil, such as doTerra’s DigestZen, as you massage the reflex points for maximum benefit. You can heal yourself!
Your body is an amazing machine and you can use an ancient healing therapy to bring health and homeostasis to your life.
Please feel free to contact me for any further information or with any questions.
You can find Kate’s site here: Massage & Wellness by Kate
Find her on Facebook at: Hygeia Healing Hands, Massage, Bodywork & Personal Training
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